Innocence, naivety, ignorance – the PI with the body to moonlight as a bikini model and the face to go along with it conforms to all three. ‘The nerviest, curviest, PI in Los Angeles’ is a blonde bombshell following in her murdered father’s footsteps. H West was once a well known gumshoe, now with Honey West taking over the family business she faces difficulty in re-establishing the brand, having to overcome male perception and era stereotypes.
THE GIRL FOR HIRE is a fun, pulpy murder mystery fully of cheesy dialogue and little realism (there is a scene where Honey is nearly raped only to then end up playing strip poker with the man and his friends). The first installment in the Honey West PI series is to be taken lightly. G.G. Fickling goes to great lengths to embellish the unbelievable (the killer once unveiled was someone I didn't imagine – it also makes a mockery of the police involved in the case).
There are plot holes by virtue of real life contrasts simply not being plausible (an inability to recognise a murdered person for instance) yet this doesn't come off as a bad thing. In fact, it adds to the pulpy fun feel of Honey West. Her charisma and care-free attitude is refreshing, her ignorance, almost enough to get her out of many tight situations (and not just her bathing suit – of which there are many references).
The case is simple and linear – a Hollywood type hires Honey West fearing for his life. Soon he’s found murdered proving his fears correct. Shortly thereafter Honey is once again hired by her former clients friend (also in the business) to track down the killer. Suspects drop quicker than shoddy scripts as the conclusion draws near – the mystery certainly kept me guessing.
Despite its shortcomings, THIS GIRL FOR HIRE (pub 1956) is very much the guilty pleasure – it doesn't do much for the literary senses but does satisfy the craving for simple pulp entertainment, easily consumed and equally enjoyed.
Side note: There were murmurs online some time ago that Reese Witherspoon had been mentioned to play Honey in a feature film, however, it looks like this didn't eventuate.
Other books in the series:
- This Girl for Hire (1957)
- Girl on the Loose (1958)
- A Gun for Honey (1958)
- Honey in the Flesh (1959)
- Girl on the Prowl (1959)
- Kiss for a Killer (1960)
- Dig a Dead Doll (1960)
- Blood and Honey (1961)
- Bombshell (1964)
- Honey on her Tail (1971)
- Stiff as a Board (1972)
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THE DANCE OF DEATH by Carter Brown: http://justaguythatlikes2read.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/review-dance-of-death-by-carter-brown.html
BUTCH FATALE, DYKE DICK – DOUBLE D DOUBLE CROSS by Christa Faust: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/274655794